Every Good Friday in Trapani a centuries-old tradition representing the Passion and death of Christ is repeated: the twenty-four hours Procession of the Mysteries (Misteri).
The Procession of the Mysteries (Misteri) of Trapani still arouses great emotion and excitement in town. The Mysteries are eighteen sculptural groups and two simulacra made between the 17th and 18th centuries. All statues are placed upon a wooden structure (vara) and statues are generally made of silver with golden and coral decorations. The procession has Spanish origins: at first, it was managed by a religious confraternity, then each group was entrusted to a Maestranza (arts and crafts) which together in 1974 founded the Unione Maestranze. Today, thanks to their collaboration, every Good Friday the city of Trapani stops and stages that this tradition that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Each group of statues depicts a moment of Christ's Passion, i.e. from the separation with Mary to his death on the cross. It is a never-ending parade that winds through the elegant and refined streets of the city center, starting on Good Friday at 2 pm from the Chiesa del Purgatorio and then going on all night, without any break or hesitation, until Saturday at 2 pm, in the very same place where it began. Each group, run by a different maestranza, is accompanied by the procession of the faithful, young people, and devotees dressed in the clothes of Christ's time to reproduce that historical context; they also all have a marching band playing funeral marches written by Sicilian authors. After 00.00 the part of the human procession dissolves and only the statues remain, dressed, enriched by the jewels lent as a vow, lit by candles and surrounded by splendid floral decorations and the massari, those who carry the Mysteries on their shoulders with the so-called annacata movement, especially during the musical moments.
Tradition, emotion and holiness
After a night spent in the oldest parts of the city (in the area of the Barracche the Mysteries meet the dawn and the sound of the waves of the sea joins with the notes of the funeral marches) around 8.00 a.m. on Holy Saturday the Mysteries, begin their return "home". The last group usually enters the church at 2.00 p.m., the bishop of the city blesses everyone, the workers, the devouts, the musicians, the people, and the doors close with great emotion, saying goodbye to the Mysteries until the following year.
Here the holy groups and their Maestranze:The Separation (or The License or The Departure) by the guild of the Goldsmiths;The Washing of the Feet by the guild of the Fishermen;Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by the guild of the Farmers;The Arrest by the guild of Metalworkers;Jesus falls into the Cedron Brook by the guild of the Sailors;Jesus before Hanna by the guild of the Grocers;The Denial by the guilds of the Barbers and of the Hairdressers;Jesus before Herod by the guild of the Fishmongers;The Flagellation by the guilds of the Bricklayers and of the Stonemasons;The Crowning with Thorns by the guild of the Bakers;Ecce Homo! by the guild of the Shoemakers;The Judgement by the guild of the Butchers;The Ascent to Calvary by the People, the citizens, and denizens of Trapani;The Disrobing by the guilds of the Drapers and of the Cloth Merchants;The Elevation of the Cross by the guild of the Carpenters;The Wound to the Chest by the guilds of the Painters and of the Decorators;Descent from the Cross by the guilds of the Tailors and of the Upholsterers;The Transport to the Sepulchre by the guild of Saltpan Workers;The Sepulchre by the guild of Pasta Makers;The Sorrows by the guilds of the Waiters, of the Drivers, of the Hotel Workers, of the Confectioners, and of the Bartenders.
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